Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /nfs/c02/h01/mnt/25090/domains/catholic.nowealthbutlife.com/html/wp-content/themes/canvas/functions/admin-functions.php on line 692 and defined in /nfs/c02/h01/mnt/25090/domains/catholic.nowealthbutlife.com/html/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 1210
Catholic Life | Tag Archive | Priests
Tag Archives: Priests

Mother’s Day Fun

Before mass started the priest approached us and started talking to Josh about whether he was still doing the sort of work where he could live anywhere, and whether it was really my job that was keeping us from moving back to the area. He then told Josh that Josh was failing in his role [as financial provider] since we were geographically constrained by my job.

I interjected that I would much rather work than be at home doing nothing. The priest responded that I should have children and stay home with them. I replied that God is in control of that. The priest agreed and then suggested that I should spend more time shopping to keep busy, and Josh could spend more time working.

After mass the deacon was handing out blessed flowers to the mothers. As I walked by without taking one the priest questioned the fact that I did not have a flower. I responded that I do not have any children. The deacon confidently added “yet” and the priest countered that I was a wife. I continued walking as this conversation took place and left the church without a flower.

In the car I told Josh that while the priest’s gesture would have been perfectly pastoral for some women struggling with Mother’s Day jealousy, I really, really don’t think that the nurturing associated with being a wife is the same as being a mother! And I wonder what he would have told a single woman? “Oh, but you take care of your pets/houseplants!”

Back at Josh’s parents house I informed his mother that I am a failure in my role as a wife because I don’t know how to fill my time with shopping. She said that the priest was clearly giving advice based on what he sees, and that it works well for many of the couples around here.

Read full storyComments { 22 }

Confession: Thanks, But I’d Rather Blame the Priests

I have often seen people (especially priests) lament the fact that Catholics “don’t go to reconciliation” and that the lines for communion are long while the lines for confession are short. The implication is that nothing has changed with the priests, but that since Vatican II–the bishops–changed everything, the laity now feel free to ignore the sacrament of penance and go for years without reconciliation.

Perhaps that is true, but even if it is, the solution must be as much the work of the priests as the laity whom they insist should be more frequent penitents.

I once waited in line for almost 3 hours for a chance to confess at a penance service. It is typical for the local priests in small New England towns to help each other out by coming to each other’s parishes for penance services, but apparently not enough were willing to come this evening. There were at least five priests there, but presumably either the pastor did not think it worth risking a low turn-out and “wasting” his brother priests’ evenings by having them drive half an hour to hear 5 confessions, or else not enough priests were willing to respond to the request and show up for a penance service at a parish that was entirely out of their official responsibility. In any case though, anyone who had hired a baby sitter for the evening, or was sick, or had other good reasons to limit their time either had to get one of the first few spots in line, or else was unable to confess that evening.

There have been many more times when I would show up at 3:05 when confessions were scheduled from 3-4pm on Saturdays, only to find the line so long that after waiting for almost an hour the priest would have to apologize and leave to celebrate mass, while several people still waited for confessions–many of whom were presumably looking forward to receiving the Eucharist, but would now have to wait another week. Did you read that sentence? Look at it and imagine confession lines 10 times longer and twice as rambling, and you’ll have the right idea.

Yesterday I arrived at church just as confessions were scheduled to start. There were already 5 people in line in front of me. A few minutes later there were two more people behind me, and another man who had walked out after he realized how long this would take. The pastor walked by with decorations in his hands. He saw the situation, went to the back of the church and got the priest who was supposed to be hearing confessions. I hoped that the pastor would pull up a chair the way did sometimes during Advent and Lent, and hear a few confessions. But he left without ever saying a word.

By the time I walked into the confessional at least 6 people had left the line  without having their confessions heard. Based on the number that were in line behind me, and how soon mass started, I suspect that at least 10 more were turned away without their confessions being heard.

I have no idea what the pastor was doing that day. I have no idea what the other priests in residence at the parish were doing. I have no idea whether the priest hearing confessions was caught up in something supremely important and really could not have come sooner.

All I know is that somewhere along the way, perhaps starting with the archbishop himself, many pastoral decisions were made. And these pastoral decisions made it so that many people approached confession, but had to leave without receiving the sacrament.

The pastor and priest hearing confessions are not young men. Undoubtedly they have been through a lot and are rightly jaded. They know that balance is important, and that God isn’t actually going to condemn anyone to hell for not being able to confess due to long lines. But I sincerely wished that a younger, rosy-eyed priest with visions of sainthood had been there in order to at least volunteer to return to the stuffy confessional after mass and hear the remaining confessions for anyone who could stay.

The truth is that sometimes the lines for confession are as long as the lines for communion, and it is a lot more work for priests.

People don’t just fail to go to confession because they don’t value it. The truth is that many of us value confession exactly as much as priests do, and that balanced value of confession means that we are willing to put in the equivalent amount of work. In my mind, an hour once a week for a priest (you know, the uber-religious person whose actual job is showing up to run church-stuff) is pretty much the equivalent of 20 minutes every 5 years for a lay person (you know, the person whose job is something other than religious stuff) when it comes to confession.

Yes, there are many priests out there who place great value on the sacrament of confession. But there are also many who don’t think that it is worth sitting around in an empty confessional for hours a month just to catch a few more souls that can’t make it to the standard confession times.

The lines for confession may be “short” but in my experience the lines of faithful priests willing to hear confessions are often disproportionately shorter.

Read full storyComments { 10 }

Confession: Reconciling Advice and Reality

Have you ever corrected a priest in the confessional? I haven’t.

There have been times when I should have, such as when the priest seriously misunderstood the substance of my sins. There have also been times when what the priest said simply was not factually true. I don’t think that I will ever believe it is right to correct a priest on basic religious facts during confession.

When I went to reconciliation during last Advent the priest heard my confession (you’ll never guess what part of it was based on the following ;-)) and then responded that God hates lukewarmness and has said “because you are neither hot nor cold I will spew you out.” I nodded attentively and said something like “I’m Laodicea” as the priest paused to catch his breath. But then he continued on “of course you don’t have to worry about Jesus ever spewing you out, that was the Old Testament God who said that.”

I am obviously recounting this story from my memory which I don’t trust to be exact, and so it occurs to me that perhaps the priest was not mistaken about the location of the passage to which he referred. But if that is the case then the potential for heresy in the statement is even higher.

When I told Josh about the priest’s statement Josh suggested that I should have corrected the priest. After all, priests tend to have a few things that they say over and over again to penitents, and it is not good for this particular piece of misinformed advice to be spread around.

But that was absolutely out of the question for me. For me, reconciliation is supposed to be a time of humility, and instructing the confessor does not at all fit in with that. I suppose that if I thought that the misinformation were truly pernicious, I would later schedule a non-confession appointment with the priest and bring the issue up then.

It does strike me as quite possibly wrong that I see confession as such a structured time of hierarchical humility. It is not about the pursuit of truth in life or even my spiritual life; it is about shutting myself down in the hope that God will swoop in and clean up in the formally prescribed way.

I know that in reality the best answer is probably “it depends upon the situation, the facts, and all involved” but I suspect that most people are probably as dogmatic as Josh and I in our preferences for the “correct” course of action.

How about you? Would you correct a priest during confession? Have you ever?

Read full storyComments { 8 }